The Nats have been off to an awesome start in the month of April. To end the month at 14-8 is somewhat unexpected. Fans were optimistic before opening day, but I’m not sure that anyone would have predicted how many ways our boys on the field would find ways to win (despite the frustrating road trip to California).
And now we leave the first month, and we start to have some real data to work with instead of merely making guesses based on limited opportunities. But because I’m not REALLY a baseball math person, I called up someone who is – Drew, husband of First Lady Ashley, who also writes a stats blog called Crunching Through My Day. We’re going to try something new this month, and depending on how things go…this could be a semi-regular thing. Let us know what you think, and we’ll see what happens.
The next month is going to be the Nats first real challenge. Everyone said that their opening schedule was one where they had a chance to dominate, and clearly they did since they sit tied for first at the top of the NL leaderboard. What we’re going to do is go series-by-series and using Maggie’s guts and Drew’s computer programs, try to predict how things will look by the end of the month. We’ll address the first four teams the Nats will face in today’s post on FLoB, and the back half’s opponents tomorrow on Crunching Through My Day.
Currently, the DBacks sit in the middle of the NL West with a record of 12-11. After this series, the next time they’ll see the Nats is the middle of August, once things get interesting. Last year the Nats were 2-5 against the D-backs who finished 1st in the NL West with a record of 94-68. With that history and the back end of our rotation facing Arizona, I predict 1-2.
The Dbacks are an enigma to me since I hear so little about them. Looking at the #s this will be an interesting series for the Nats. Arizona’s pitching looks awful, allowing 1.09 HR/9 and a 4.01 FIP. 290 BABIP. The Pirates aren’t that bad. However, their offense seems better than most. This should be a real series with the Nats pitching strength pitted against their offense and their poor pitching against our abysmal offense. After the series with the Dodgers, I’m going to say that our offense won’t get it done here. One upping Maggie and saying a sweep.
The Nationals will take on the Phillies twice in the month of May – during the first weekend of May for the highly touted “Our Park” initiative, followed by a trip to Citizens Bank Park towards the end of the month. They’ll face the fury of Strasburg during the first series, and will see the middle of the rotation up in Philly. I predict 2-1 for the first meeting, and 1-2 for the second (we’ll blame the Philthies for that) for an even 3-3 for the month of May.
The Philthies suffered a huge set back this spring with Howard and Utley going on the DL. While questions swirled about whether or not their pitching would be enough to carry them through the NL. Through April, the results aren’t pretty. The Phillies pitching staff has pitched pretty middling, with middle of the NL stats in K/9, BB/9 and BABIP (oddly enough, their FIP is 2nd in the NL behind the Nats). Their offense has been fairly nondescript which probably explains their record. While April results don’t have much bearing on post season outcomes, particularly for the Philthies, I’m not counting them out yet. Playing the Nats brings out the best in both teams (and the worst in Philthies fans). For the two series, I’m going to say that there’s a split, with the Philthies taking 2 of the first 3 and the Nats taking the 2 of the last 3.
Pittsburgh Pirates – 5/8-10, 16-17
The Pirates are a team that I always feel bad for. They haven’t had a winning season since 1992, and they’ve been dumped on for so long in a way that the Nationals only had to endure for a few seasons. They’ll face off for a three game series in Pittsburgh, followed by a 2 game series a week later in DC. I say 2-1 for the first series, and 1-1 for the second, leaving a prediction of 3-2 for the month.
I agree with you Maggie. Despite the fact that Sid Bream sliding into home is still the most exciting baseball moment of my life (Braves win! Braves win!), I feel bad for the Pirates. Even for a bad team, they’re underperforming. The Pirates pitching is ok but their offense atrocious, falling near the bottom in BABP, H, HR, and K%. Pair that against the Nationals pitching and I’m calling for a sweep in the first series and a split in the second. Assuming the Nats actually hit, that is.
Cincinnati Reds – 5/11-13
The Nats played the Reds as their first home stand of the year and took 3 of 4. If the Nats stay on top of their game, I bet we’ll see another win…even if they are playing this series in Ohio. I predict: 2-1.
While the Nats took 3 of 4 from the Reds at home, they got lucky. Going into the 8th inning of each game, the Nats’ win probability was 94.8, 21.6, 94.2, and 50.0. Games 1, 2, and 4 went into extra innings and the Nats lost the last one. The Nats could have easily lost the first two of those games and we’d be looking at a very different season right now. While the Reds haven’t been outstanding, they’ve got a core that’s as good as the Nats. I’m afraid the ball is going to bounce their way in the series. I’m going to be a downer here and say the baseball gods will smile on the Reds with a sweep.
We’ll finish up the rest of our thoughts tomorrow on Crunching Through My Day. Be sure to check back for the thrilling finale (haha) where we reveal how we think the Nats will finish out the month.